Germany

on the World Today

REUNIFICATION affects every phase of political and economic life in Germany. The Federal Republic in the West has a population of about 50 million, and the so-called People’s Republic in the East, the Soviet puppet, has about 18 million people. The difference in the political, economic, and social life of the two, in every aspect, large and small, from the appearance of store windows 1o freedom of the press, radio, and education, is about as striking as it is between, say, London and Moscow. East Germany and West Germany, separated by the artificial line drawn in 1945 for purposes of military occupation, are two different worlds.

In the former capital, Berlin, which is also sliced up, the contrast between East and West in the same city run by two different regimes is as striking as it is in the two states. The tension, confusion, economic and political difficulties, and personal heartaches resulting from this prolonged splitting up of the country and the former capital defy description; they have to be experienced. Yet this is only a small part of the story.

The real Germany

Whenever the Big Powers, or even the Germans, talk about reunification they refer to the joining together of these four pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. They do not even mention those vast areas which the world has almost forgotten, the real East Germany. What we call the Eastern Republic — the Communist puppet state — is no more Eastern Germany than Illinois or Ohio is Eastern United States. The Communist Republic is Central Germany, while the real Eastern provinces were put under Soviet and Polish administration in 1945 with the proviso that their final fate would be determined by the peace treaty. In the meantime Russia and Poland have quietly but effectively annexed these provinces, which are almost half the size of the British Isles.

The Communist regimes have not only changed the names of cities and towns into Russian or Polish: they have also removed the German population and settled their own nationals instead. For example, the famous East Prussian capital of Koenigsberg, home of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, is now Kaliningrad and practically free of German population. The entire area of East Prussia has been made a. part of the Soviet Union.

The city of Danzig, where World War II exploded, has now about a thousand Germans; in 1939 the number was a quarter of a million. Those East Germans who did not take refuge in West Germany or other parts of the free world were resettled in the Communist Empire.

Neither the Soviet Union nor Poland will even discuss evacuation of these areas. The reason is not difficult to grasp. After World War II, Russia redrew her European border line, incorporating East Prussia as well as provinces belonging to her present allies: the Poles, the Czechs, and the Rumanians. In order to compensate the Poles for what he took from them, Stalin gave them the East German territories from Danzig to Silesia. The Poles now feel that the territory is theirs as part of the deal even though Stalin liberally traded what actually belonged to Germany, not Russia.

But today Poland is united on that one point: the former German provinces are to remain Polish. For example, a year ago there was considerable agitation in the country because the Vatican nominated a German to become bishop of a district of former German Silesia. The district wanted a Pole instead. Obviously in their determination to keep the German provinces the Communist regimes have the backing of large masses of their people who othorwise want no truck with the Communists.

In other words, East Germany is lost, almost beyond hope. Even if the Soviet Union and Poland agreed to let go of the annexed provinces, it would require another migration of roughly 10 to 15 million people — Russians and Poles moving out, Germans moving back in. A further and perhaps decisive complication is that as things are now, the Soviet Union and Poland have made it clear that they consider the provinces parts of their countries and would surrender only to force.

This is why discussion of German reunificalion usually ignores the real Eastern provinces and concentrates on joining together the Federal Republic and the Communist puppet state. Can at least this be done? And if so, when and how?

Everybody wants reunification

Every German political party makes the demand for reunification one of its main platform planks. The United States is prodding the Soviet Union; the Kremlin maintains that Russia would like to see Germany unified. In reality the Soviet leaders know that if they permit reunification of their puppet with the thriving Federal Republic, they will lose that puppet overnight. In the Federal Republic the Communists are practically nonexistent; in a free election for the 18 million people in the so-called People’s Republic after a merger, the Communists would get 10 per cent of the votes at the most.

Russia has nothing to gain from reunification except perhaps a final peace settlement in which the Soviet Union and Poland would receive the deed, so to speak, to the provinces in the East. But are the Germans — people and politicians — willing to pay that price?

Today the public suggestion to abandon the Eastern territories would bring a violent outcry of fury. No politician is willing to make such a suggestion. Privately, though, realistic politicians and ordinary citizens will tell you that Soviet Russia and Poland would yield to force only; and no one in Germany wants to use force, the Germans admit with resignation.

Today there are about 8 million people in the Federal German Republic who have emigrated since the end of World War II, some from the East, some from Czechoslovakia and other Communist countries. There is still a certain amount of sentimental feeling for their former homesteads in all of them. But the middle-aged refugees have found new homes and better business opportunities than they ever had. The youngest barely remember the old country; they were too young when they left in 1945. Most of these people will admit that they would not go back to the Eastern provinces even if they could. West Germany is their home.

The oldest refugees still hope to recover what they lost, and many of them have not been able to take root in the West. They are quite belligerent about restoration of the 1939 borders. But ten or twenty years from now the older generation will have died and with it the real opposition to relinquishing the Eastern provinces. It is conceivable that by then the Soviet Union and Poland will secure the deed and in return drop their opposition to the reunification of the Federal Republic, the so-called People’s Republic, and the two parts of Berlin. Until then the present shadowboxing is likely to continue.

The United States blames the failure exclusively on the Kremlin. The Soviets say they would be for reunification if Germany did not rearm or did not belong to NATO. But Moscow would be quick to look for some other excuse if those two conditions were accepted. Chancellor Adenauer and his supporters, the Kremlin knows, are dead set against t hose conditions. But if the 1957 election brings a victory to the Social Democrats, Dr. Adenauer will be replaced by another government leader. In that case, Moscow may well be faced with the necessity of either agreeing to German unification or looking for a new way of saying “No.”

Election apathy

The forthcoming German election has been casting its shadow on the political scene for a long time. There is actually no issue to stir up excitement in the electorate.

The economy is booming; reconstruction is racing along; Germany has regained her sovereignty and world markets. Nevertheless it is true that, despite the so-called economic miracle which impresses even the most casual visitor, there is not what one would call high prosperity. In fact, living standards are still somewhat below those of Great Britain and France. Some people are doing exceedingly well, but not the masses, and especially not the elderly, the disabled, or the retired. Prices are in general about the same as in the United States, while salaries for a 48-hour week are about one third of the wages for the comparable 40hour week in America.

Even so, the Social Democrats realize that promises of better wages and living standards do not get many votes in Germany today. The bulk of German employees and workers would like shorter working hours not in order to have more leisure but in order to take a part-time job and make a little more money on the side. It would please them, but it is not a burning issue.

The only issues

There are only two issues which really produce any interest: one is membership in NATO, and the other is German rearmament. Both are tied to the question of reunification. On all three issues (reunification, NATO, and rearmament) the Social Democrats have had the jump on Chancellor Adenauer for years. The Chancellor is a sincere believer in international coöperation, and he has held that he could get from the West, especially from the United States, the necessary financial, political, and military support to rebuild the young republic. Being a lifelong conservative, he has also naturally leaned toward the conservative views of Washington. So he has joined NATO, and has bent every effort to develop a German army of 500,000 according to the wishes of the United States.

The Social Democrats, on the other hand, have felt no obligation to fall in with American suggestions. They have vehemently opposed joining NATO and rearmament, not only because they are leery of any army but also because they are first and foremost interested in reunification.

Manpower shortage

There are also economic angles to the opposition to rearmament, at least on the scale desired in Washington and promoted by Dr. Adenauer. Germany has practically no manpower reservoir. There are about 500,000 unemployed, more or less the hard core of the unemployable — people who are too old to change their jobs, white-collar workers with little skill, or partly disabled people.

Rearmament — according to Dr. Adenauer’s plans — would require not only an army of 500,000 but also a newly created armament industry. In other words, it would make tremendous demands on German manpower — demands that could be met only by drawing people away from present jobs. Employers in general worry lest rearmament produce fierce competition for employees and therefore cause rising wages. Employees are afraid that rearmament would mean fewer consumers’ goods, and the workers today are primarily interested in replenishing what they lost during the war and improving their living standards.

For almost a decade now, there has been a strange paradox in Germany. Dr. Adenauer as leader of the conservative, supposedly nationalist parties in his coalition government has been plugging international coöperation, Western European unity, NATO, concessions to American guidance, continued payments for the Allied troops stationed in Germany under the NATO agreement. The Social Democrats, on the other hand, traditionally the party of international coöperation, have adopted a strictly patriotic, nationalist line. They demand reunification above all.

The largest coalition partner of Dr. Adenauer, the right-of-center Free Democratic Party, has split, and only 13 deputies in Parliament (Bundestag) stayed with the coalition, while 31 declared themselves neutral. They are opposed to everything the Social Democrats stand for economically. But when it comes to independence they will vote with the Social Democrats and against the Chancellor.

The decline of Adenauer

This is the mood of the public; this is where votes can be won. Over the past few years and since the last Federal election, in 1953, Dr. Adenauer has lost a lot of ground. Such big and powerful states as RhineWest phalia, Bavaria, Hesse, as well as the district of Bremen, are now run by Social Democrats; Wuerttemberg-Baden has a coalition of the Social Democrats and Dr. Adenauer’s party, the Christian Democrats. In recent months, the so-called Radford Plan of cutting down on the number of American troops in Europe knocked out another prop of Adenauer’s regime. His opponents spread the word that the United States has more or less gently let him down.

Dr. Adenauer was never beloved by a majority; he had the respect of many and he had much prestige abroad, and therefore he was accepted during the years of reconstruction. Now he is over eighty, more irritable and more stubborn than ever. Next year’s election may cost Dr. Adenauer heavily in votes.